community is known for having lavish festivals and weddings.
Their wedding preparations begin well in advance and the 'sangeet'
parties have become elaborate occasions lasting almost for a
The bridegroom generally mounts a richly caparisoned mare and
his 'baraat' (procession) is replete with a live band and
relatives and friends accompanying him sing and dance all the
way to the wedding venue!
exchange lavish gifts all throughout the marriage ceremonies.
Their weddings are usually held in hotels or banquet halls and
in cities like New Delhi, huge 'shamianas' (decorative tents)
are erected in parks to host the wedding ceremonies and quite
often, the reception.
Some common surnames:
Malhotra, Chawla, Wadhwa, Singh,Kapoor, Khanna, Dhawan
Thaka or Roka (Announcement of the
'Rokna' is an important part of the Punjabi wedding although the
'shagun' now could be any amount of money - instead of the
customary Rs. 1.25, which was so common in the olden days. The
Rokna ceremony where the boy and girl give their commitment to
get married to each other is performed at the house of the
bride-to-be. So the family and relatives of the prospective
groom must go to her house for the ceremony. The ceremony
consists of a simple puja that is conducted by a purohit,
followed by an exchange of gifts between the two families. After
this ceremony they are free to court each other.
Magni, Sagaai or Kudmai (Engagement
In many Indian marriages, a formal engagement takes place before
'asking' of the bride's hand in marriage by the groom's family
is known as the 'mangni'. Rings are exchanged between the bride
and the groom to be, in the presence of a 'pandit' or 'pujari',
close friends and relatives. The wedding day would normally be
fixed after the 'sagai'.
Sagan and Chunni Chadana
(Dressing-up and blessing of the bride)
The ceremonies are combined together, usually conducted in a
banquet hall or a club. The purohit performs a havan. The father
of the bride-to-be applies tilak on the forehead of the
groom-to-be. The bride is dressed in clothes and jewellery that
have been presented to her by her future in-laws. Close female
relatives form the groom's home go the bride's home with what is
known as the 'suhag ki pitari' (a decorated basket containing
gifts from the groom's mother for the bride). These gifts
usually consist of 'mehendi' (henna), clothes, jewellery,
fruits, dry fruits, dried coconut, 'chuaare' or dried dates,
bangles, 'sindoor' (vermilion powder) and a red 'dupatta' or
veil. Her mother-in-law feeds her boiled rice and milk as
part of the ritual.
During this ceremony the ladies sing wedding songs to the beat
of a 'dholak' or small drum and decorate the bride-to-be by
dressing her up and draping the red 'dupatta' on her.
Ladies Sangeet (The music
Punjabi celebrations typically comprise of 'gaana, bajaana, khanna, peena,
(singing, dancing, eating, drinking!). Family and friends sing
to the catchy beat of the 'dholak' (small drum) making sure
several songs are sung to tease the bride's mother-in-law and
other members of the groom's family!
In a lot of urban communities, the 'sangeet' is a mixed party
held at night, hosted separately by both families on two
consecutive evenings. Drinks flow, dinner is served and the
celebrations could well continue till the wee hours of the next
Mehandi (The Heena Cermony)
is an intimate ceremony, mainly for the ladies in the family and
the bride's friends. The 'mehendi' (henna) is passed around to
all present for their blessings and each one leaves a few rupees
in the platter. 'Mehendi' is then smeared on the palms of the
bride after which she reaches back and leaves the impressions of
her palms on the wall behind her. These days a protective sheet
of paper is pasted on the wall! The henna is quickly washed off
and then the professional henna artists or 'mehendiwallis' take
over by decorating the palms of the bride and her friends. The
bride's 'mehendi' can take upto hours for the intricate patterns
to be drawn and then left to dry to achieve a deep red colour. A
simple 'mehendi' ceremony is conducted for the groom at his
home. The 'mehendi' is passed around to all to be blessed, then
smeared onto his palms and quickly washed off! The women in his
family may call in a professional 'mehendi' artist to decorate
In both the homes the ladies sing and dance to the beat of the 'dholak'.
Kangan Bandhana (Tying of the symbolic bracelet on the
On the morning of the wedding day, the bride and the groom
(each in their respective homes), has to have the sacred thread
or 'mouli' tied to their right wrists. The 'mouli' has an iron 'challa'
(bracelet) tied to it along with turmeric sticks, 'supari'
(betel nut) and 'kaudis' (shells). The thread has to have as
many knots as possible in order to make it difficult to untie
The maternal uncle of the bride-to-be plays an important
role in this ceremony. The oldest maternal uncle and aunt as
well as the girl's parents usually fast throughout the day or at
least until the completion of this ceremony. The purohit
performs a havan. After the puja, the chuda (a set of red and
cream ivory bangles) are touched by all present to signify their
blessings and good wishes for the bride-to-be. The bride must
slip the chuda on her wrist. This is followed by an iron bangle
(for good luck) with shells and beads, and a mauli that the
pandit ties around her wrist. Flower petals are showered on the
girl after the ceremony and prasad is distributed among all. The
girl's maternal uncle and aunt, friends and cousins tie kaliras
(silver, gold or gold plated traditional ornaments that are tied
to the chuda). Before departing for her husband's home, the
bride must tap one of her unwed female friends or cousins with
her kaliras. According to popular belief, the one who is tapped
thus will be the next one to marry.
The morning of the wedding is marked by the gharoli ceremony
at the groom's house. The groom's sister-in law accompanied
by other female relatives go to a nearby well or Gurudwara
to fill an earthen pitcher or gharoli with water which is
later used to bath the bridegroom.
utpan and vatna
This ritual demands that the bride-to-be stay at home in her old
clothes for a couple of days before her wedding. She must sit in
the vicinity of four lit diyas or oil lamps so that the glow
from them is reflected on her face. A sibling and the sibling's
spouse usually fill a pitcher of water from a nearby temple to
be added to the bath and old garments are given away to a poor
person. Before her bath, vatna or uptan (a paste of powdered
turmeric and mustard oil) is applied on her body by female
relatives and friends. Both, the ghara ghardoli and the vatna
ceremonies are also performed for the groom at his house. Here
the pitcher of water is brought for his bath by his bhabi (elder
The bride is dressed by her mother, female relatives and friends
amid much gaiety. She may wear a sari or a lehenga in
traditional colours like red, orange or magenta. She is adorned
with traditional gold jewellery.
The groom dresses in formal attire, which may be traditional or
western. A young nephew or cousin also dons similar attire. He
is called the sarbala (caretaker of the groom) and accompanies
him on his mare or in his car.
A puja is performed after the groom dons his wedding attire. His
sehra or turban is blessed by his relatives, as is the silver
mukut or crown that goes on top of the turban. At the end of the
ceremony, those present bless the groom and give him gifts or
The 'sehra' or veil of golden threads is taken around to each
member of the family to be blessed. His sisters tie the 'sehra'
onto his turban. The 'sarbala' (a young boy, usually a nephew of
the groom) will act as his constant companion and be with him
until the wedding ceremony is over.
The groom is escorted to the richly caparisoned mare; the mare's
attendant feeds her horse gram and the groom and the 'sarbala'
mount the mare.
Ghodi, Vag goodti and duppata
The groom's bhabi lines his eyes with surma (kohl). After this,
the groom's sisters and cousins feed and decorate his mare. If
the groom chooses to use a car for the occasion, then the car is
decorated. His relatives use cash for the varna, a ceremony that
is supposed to ward off the evil eye. The cash is given away to
the Groom's Procession or Baraat) The bride's family receives the 'baraat' at the entrance of
the bride's home.
Reception of the groom and the 'baraatis' by the bride's
family. The 'baraat' (groom's party) arrives at the venue and is
greeted by the male relatives from the bride's family to the
singing of 'Hum Ghar Saajan Aaye' a hymn giving thanks for being
blessed by the arrival of the gracious folk. The 'Ardaas' is
said. The bride's father greets the groom's father by garlanding
him and is garlanded in return. All the male relatives of the
bride greet their counterparts in the groom's family in
sequence, in like manner.
After the 'milni' the couple exchange garlands; this ceremony is
known as the 'jaimala'. The bride garlands the groom first
signaling her acceptance of him as her husband.
At the groom's house a sehera or floral veil is tied to the
boy's forehead by his sisters and a garland of currency notes
adorn his neck. The bridegroom mounts a decorated mare while his
sisters-in -law put collyrium in his eyes. On reaching the
bride's house the milni ceremony is held with the seniors of
both families embracing each other. Shabads are sung and the
ardaas recited as the procession enters the Gurudwara breakfast
is served to the guests.
Jaimala or Varmala
The bride and groom exchange garlands during this ceremony.
Those present indulge in much teasing and festivity to mark this
happy occasion. Often, this ceremony acts as an effective
ice-breaker for the nervous bride and her groom.
The wedding puja
The mahurat or auspicious time for the wedding ceremony is
usually set after dinner. When the mahurat approaches, the
purohit first performs a puja for the groom. The groom chants a
few mantras. This is when the girl's young relatives grab the
groom's untended shoes and hide it away to be returned after the
ceremony for a fee. Kalecharis gold for the bride's sisters and
silver for her cousins. The purohit performs another puja with
the couple and their parents. The bride is given away by her
father in a ceremony called the kanyadaan. This is followed by
the pheras. The bride and groom go around the sacred fire with
the bride's sari tied to the groom's pagdi with the help of the
red chunni used in the ghara ghardoli ceremony. At the end of
the ceremony, the newly-weds touch the feet of the groom's
parents and the elders present to take their blessings. The
bride changes into the clothes presented by her in-laws, while
her relatives apply tilak on the groom's forehead.
Doli (The bride
Before the bride leaves for her marital home, she either lights
a 'mitti ka diya' (earthen lamp) in her parents home or turns on
all the lights.
What follows is the most touching and sensitive ritual of Hindu
weddings, the 'lajahom'. 'Laja' or 'phulian' is puffed rice (a
sign of prosperity), which the bride has to take in both her
hands and shower on all her family over the top of her head. She
does this all the way to the palanquin or decorated car, which
is waiting to take her to her new home. By doing this she is
repaying all her debts to her parents for having looked after
her all these years.
Reception at Groom's House
The newly weds are welcomed in a ceremony called the pani bharna.
The groom's mother performs the traditional aarti with a pitcher
of water. She makes seven attempts to drink the water from the
pitcher. The groom must allow her to succeed only at the seventh
attempt. The bride must, with her right foot, kick the sarson ka
tel (mustard oil) that is put on the sides of the entrance door
before she enters the house. Along with her husband, she must
offer puja in their room. Then they must touch the feet of the
elders in a ceremony called matha tekna. The rest of the evening
is spent in playing enjoyable traditional games.
Kangna Kholna (Untying
of the bracelet)
The bride and groom untie each other's bracelets in the presence
of all the relatives. There is a lot of teasing and fun and
frolic at this time. The bride is required to untie her
husband's bracelet first. Mooh Dikhai Ki Rasm (Introducing the bride to
the husbandís family)
Literally translated this means the 'showing of the bride' to
the groom's family members, but in reality it is actually a form
of introduction. The mother-in-law showers her 'bahu'
(daughter-in-law) with jewellery, clothes and money at this
time. The other close relatives of the family also offer her
gifts and money.Literally translated this means the 'showing of
the bride' to the groom's family members, but in reality it is
actually a form of introduction. The mother-in-law showers her 'bahu'
(daughter-in-law) with jewellery, clothes and money at this
time. The other close relatives of the family also offer her
gifts and money.
The groom's parents usually host the wedding reception. It is a
formal party, presenting the newly wed couple to their extended
family and friends. A military band is often requested to play
elegant marches and classical tunes during this celebration. The
wedding reception is an import from the West.
This ceremony demands that the newly weds visit the bride's
parents on the day after the wedding. They are usually fetched
by the bride's brother. The bride's parents host a lunch to mark
the occasion. They also give a lot of gifts to the newly weds. This visit is made a day
after the wedding if the bride and groom are leaving to live in
another city. Otherwise it may be made whenever convenient. The
couple visits the bride's paternal home and receives gifts and